Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Getting your children to do their homework – it’s a struggle, isn’t it?
It seems like everything is more important to them than homework. Online gaming, social media, hanging out with friends, watching TV, playing sports… the list goes on.
But it doesn’t have to be a daily struggle.
In this article, I’ll explain seven ways to get your children to do their homework – no complaining from them, and no nagging from you.
1. Make it clear that it’s their homework, not yours.
Many parents seem to care more about their children’s homework than their children do. As such, the responsibility shifts from the children to the parents.
But this shouldn’t be the case. After all, it’s your children’s homework, not yours.
Help them to understand that their homework is their responsibility. Feel free to provide help or guidance, but you should never do the work for them.
2. Don’t force them to do their homework.
I can almost hear you saying, “But Daniel, if I don’t force my children to do their homework, they won’t do it at all!”
I know where you’re coming from. But if you implement all the tips in this article, I can close to guarantee that your children will do their homework without coercion.
If you threaten or intimidate them, your parent-child relationship will suffer. And as the saying goes, “Rules without relationship breeds rebellion.” I’ve worked with more than 15,000 students so far, and I wholeheartedly agree.
If you impose rules without nurturing the relationship, sooner or later your children will defy you. Power struggles are unhealthy, whether they’re over food, getting dressed, or homework.
3. Discuss expectations and consequences with them.
Do this at the start of every term or semester. Don’t just impose your own expectations. Instead, have a calm discussion with your children. This will give them a sense of ownership over their homework and their education.
These are the key things to talk about:
- When they’ll do their homework, e.g. the first two hours after they get home from school, after they’ve had 30 minutes to relax
- Which privileges will be off-limits until they finish their homework
- The consequences if they violate the agreement
- “No homework” times, e.g. Friday nights, Sunday morning
During the discussion, be patient and composed. (Easier said than done, I know!) Remind your children that you’re on the same team as them. You aren’t out to do battle with them.
By adopting this approach, your children will behave more maturely than you expect.
After you’ve all reached an agreement, put everything down in writing. Place the “contract” on the fridge door or some other prominent location in your home, so everyone can refer to it.
4. Don’t micromanage them.
You might be tempted to think that your children will only complete their homework under your supervision. But it’s possible for them to take full ownership of their homework, such that you don’t need to supervise them at all.
When I was growing up, I don’t recall my parents ever monitoring me or my two siblings as we did our homework. But we still finished our work and performed well in school.
In addition to Point #3, I’ve found this to be a helpful approach:
Ask your children’s teachers if you can give them a 5-minute phone call once every two months, to check on your children’s progress. If the teachers agree to this, inform your children about the arrangement.
Discuss with your children what feedback from the teachers would warrant what kind of consequences. For example, you might agree that if two or more teachers remark that your children haven’t been submitting their homework on time, then they’ll lose certain privileges. These privileges will only be restored when the feedback improves.
This way, you won’t need to micromanage your children. The pre-agreed consequences will encourage your children to be more responsible. And you won’t have to endure daily homework battles any more!
5. Create a distraction-free area for homework and studying.
Place this area away from the TV and other distractions. Some families even choose a separate area for everyone to put their phones before bedtime and during homework time. This will prevent your children from being distracted by their phone.
It’s also helpful to establish boundaries, so that your children won’t disturb each other during homework time.
Provide your children with the equipment and materials they need, e.g. table lamp, stationery, desk and chair that are of a suitable size. These will enable your children to concentrate better.
6. Acknowledge their good behaviour.
Here’s a rule that applies to all children:
The behaviour that you (as a parent) focus on will increase in frequency.
This means that if you acknowledge your children’s good behaviour, they’ll display that good behaviour more often. But if you nag them about their bad behaviour, they’ll display more of that bad behaviour in the future.
After all, have you ever successfully nagged your children into changing their bad habits?
So be observant and find opportunities to recognise your children’s good behaviour. For example, if you notice that your children did their homework for 30 minutes straight, you could say, “That’s good that you focused on your work for 30 minutes.”
I’m not asking you to shower your children with over-the-top praise. Just acknowledge their good behaviour whenever you observe it.
This might seem like an insignificant gesture to you, but it isn’t to them.
7. Do your “homework” at the same time as them.
Show your children that you’re diligent about doing your “homework” too.
When they’re doing their work, you could sort out the family finances or pay the bills. Alternatively, you could read a book, take an online course, or learn a new skill.
Using this strategy, your children will see that homework is important, even as an adult. And you’ll all have more fun when the whole family does their homework together!
The bottom line
Homework is important.
But there are other things that are even more important: Responsibility, persistence, commitment, curiosity, a love for learning.
Homework is just a tool to reach these higher goals. Keep this in mind the next time you’re on the brink of losing your cool during a homework battle.
As you put the seven tips into practice, homework time will become more pleasant for both you and your children. Your parent-child relationship will improve, too.
So try out the tips today. What’s there to lose?
Daniel Wong is a learning and teen expert, and is also the bestselling author of “The Happy Student”. Download his FREE e-book, “16 Keys To Motivating Your Teenager”. The views expressed are his own.